Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

Renew-Your-Family-Passports

As I scrolled Facebook, a post from a writer friend in California stopped me in my tracks. Arlene Pellicane announced that her family had to cancel their epic Italian vacation because the kids’ passports weren’t in compliance for international travel.

Next, I received an email newsletter from my professional organizer friend, Danielle Wurth, talking about how her family trip to Mexico was derailed because of a similar scenario.

Hearing their stories got me thinking about how you and I could avoid the stress and disappointments that they experienced. 

CHECK YOUR PASSPORT NOW

Seeing my friends’ international travel plans thwarted due to passport issues caused me to head directly to our safe to check our passport expiration dates. Low and behold, my husband’s passport was due to expire in 6 weeks.

We don’t have current plans to travel internationally, but thanks to my friends’ mishaps my husband was able to send in for his renewal and already has his passport back (valid for another 10 years) in hand for when he may need it. If my friends’ didn’t tell of their passport fails, we would’ve surely been in the same position when it came time to travel out of the country the next time.

3 Things My Friends’ Passport Fails Taught Me

1. Really smart people make mistakes

That means you and I are going to make mistakes, so we can relax knowing that failure is a part of life. My friends, Danielle and Arlene, are amazingly bright, talented business owners who have their acts together. It just goes to show you, that everyone makes mistakes.

Danielle’s husband was working on their boarding passes the night before they were to leave on their family trip to Cancun when Phil announced: Honey, my passport is expired!”

Now what?

2.  It’s an opportunity for the kids to see how you handle disappointment

When negative experiences happen that affect our families, it’s important that we use the time to teach our children lessons on how to handle disappointments, frustration, and failure. It is good for kids to see that their put-together parents even make big mistakes sometimes.

“The best part as a parent was, as it was all happening and we were realizing our trip was off, my kids (ages 9, 12, 14) didn’t get upset or blame me,” said Arlene.  “They said things like, “Mom, how could you have known about the passport? I mean, it was still valid (it expired in June, our trip was in March)” and “Mom, I’m so sorry for you, you’ve spent so much time planning.”

Arlene said, “It was a wonderful lesson on disappointment and that sometimes what you are excited about doesn’t come to pass…and that life moves on.  That was a really good lesson for all of us.”

What an inspiration to see how the Pellicane family regrouped and made the most of their family time together!

At the airport, the Wurths found out the only option was for Danielle and her sons to fly to Mexico as planned and for Phil to drive on Monday morning to the main passport office in Tucson (2 hours away). Danielle says, she hated to leave him behind and start their vacation without him, but they had no other choice.

“It was a gut-wrenching experience traveling internationally without Phil, who worked hard to plan the trip, and then was the one left behind,” said Danielle. “Having family dinner on vacation with one empty chair was bizarre and felt so out of place.” Luckily, he was able to fly out and join the family on Tuesday.

3. Our mistakes help other people

I’m so happy that my friends chose to vulnerably put their stories online in order to help others learn from their mistakes.

“Mistakes happen and lessons will be learned, but it’s important to be flexible, create a new game plan and a year from now it will be a great story in our family,” says Danielle.

Warren-Buffet-Quote-It's-good-To-Learn-From-Your-Mistakes

Use social media as a way to help people learn and grow from your experiences and mishaps. My friends’ stories helped our family and just maybe their misfortune will help you too!

3 Ways to Avoid a Passport Fail

1. Always keep your passport current

In today’s Amazon culture, we are used to being able to get anything we need immediately. Unfortunately, Passports are not one of them. You have to plan ahead.

Even if you don’t have any upcoming international travel planned, a family member might be traveling overseas and you want to be able to fly to them if necessary.

My friend, Kim McAvoy, learned this the hard way. Her mother was traveling in Budapest, Hungary when she fell stepping off a tour bus, hit her head and ended up in the hospital where she later died. Kim was unable to travel with her Dad and brothers because her passport had expired.

TIP: Make it a habit to check the expiration dates of your family passports at the beginning of every year.

2. Ensure 6 months of validity beyond your scheduled travel dates

Go ahead and renew your passport 6-9 months before you are to travel. Many countries won’t allow you to board the plane if your passport will expire in less than 6 months from your departure date.

Passports for applicants 16 and older are good for 10 years. Passports for children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years. Go ahead and renew early so you don’t have any emergencies.

Travel Smart: 6 Epic Travel Fails to Avoid 

Depending on where you live there are Emergency Passport locations which will expedite the process for a hefty fee. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but why not be proactive and avoid wasting your hard earned money.

Renew-Your-Family-Passports

3. Make sure your passport is in proper condition

An expired passport is a common mistake, but it’s not the only one. You also need to make certain that your passport is not damaged in any way and also has enough blank pages available for travel.

Many countries require travelers to have at least two consecutive blank pages in their passports, while some even require four. Be sure to have more pages than you need for entry requirements. Passport and visa requirements can vary widely from one country to the next, and even seemingly insignificant violations can derail your travel plans.

For extensive online travel information, go to: https://travel.state.gov/

To avoid getting left behind at the airport, stranded at a border crossing or having to cancel your trip all together, make it a priority to keep your passport up to date and in good condition. 

Have you ever had a passport fail that derailed your travel plans? 

6-things-you-should-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

Who’s bright idea was it to think that giving our youth iPhones was a good idea?

And why have we continued to follow along knowing that giving our kids iPhones isn’t smart?

I’m not sure how our family fell into society’s technology trap, but we did. Our teenagers have personal smartphones, but they don’t come without limits, rules, and restrictions.

6-things-to-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

1. Have a family cell phone contract

Read more

The-Essential-Summer-Calendar-Helps-Parents-Purposely-Plan

Summer fun doesn’t plan itself!

With our busy family schedule, I was thrilled to find The 2019 Essential Summer Vacation Calendar. It’s the perfect tool to help me visually lay out how we are going to spend the kids’ nine weeks of summer break.

When do we have scheduled summer camps or organized activities?

When do we have time to fit in some family adventuring?

What about time away alone as husband and wife?

Do we have pockets of downtime in between organized activities for boredom and free play?

The Essential Calendar- Summer Vacation Edition- is a perfect tool to help anyone who wants to be organized and make memories this June, July, and August.

The-Essential-Summer-Calendar-Helps-Parents-Purposely-Plan

The 2019 Essential Calendar Summer Edition runs from the weeks of Memorial Day through Labor Day. Featuring easy-to-read bold type on lightweight 18″x 24″ sheets, this simple calendar runs $15 and allows you to purposely plan your precious summer season.

9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

I had so much fun sitting down to colorfully decorate our calendar with what our busy family of seven already has scheduled. It’s perfect to post on the wall for all of our family members to see so no one has to keep asking me when they leave for summer camp or when we’re headed to California. It’s all there for them to see. They can also add anything to the family calendar as well!

Save Your Sanity with a Screen Time Strategy

The Essential Calendar owners, Crystal and Lindsay, are graciously giving away a summer vacation calendar to one of you, my lucky readers! Just comment on this post WHY you need this calendar to help you purposely live out your 2019 summer for your chance to win!

One winner will be randomly selected on June 9! Winner must reside in the United States for shipping purposes.